Damn It, Nintendo

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Current Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mario Death

I didn’t want to write this blog. I like to write about fun and positive stuff. But then Nintendo had to go and completely miscalculate how the market would react to the WiiU. Damn it, Nintendo! You force me to write about some unpleasantness. And unpleasantness about my favorite gaming company on top of that. Why would you do that to me!?

Anyway, most people have read the news on this , but just in case you haven’t, here you go:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2014/01/17/wii-u-sales-forecast/4575041/

Yes, Nintendo slashed sales forecast by over 6 million consoles. Not a big deal if you’re talking a cut from 50 million to 44 million, but when it’s from 9 million to 2.8 million, that’s a mighty big cut…and a mighty big miscalculation of the console buying market. Damn it, Nintendo.

The question you may be asking me is why I care about this. After all, this doesn’t affect how my WiiU performs or the enjoyment I get from the games. My investment is because I’m a WiiU owner. Bad sales mean less games. Extremely bad sales could mean near abandonment. That means that I have a console that potentially won’t be receiving a lot of games. Look back at My Top 8 Upcoming Games of 2014. The link is just to the left. Three of those titles are WiiU titles. Is their development in jeopardy? I have no idea, but you do have to wonder if behind the scenes they aren’t considering cutting their losses and cancelling some of their bigger budget titles that are still quite a bit of time away (if I’m robbed of X they may lose me forever). Or maybe they’re being put on hold to see how Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers affects sales of the WiiU. Again, I have no idea, I just know that by cutting forecasted sales, Nintendo is openly admitting that they miscalculated with the WiiU and are indicating that the console is in real trouble. Damn it, Nintendo.

I can't imagine how important this title must be to Nintendo & the WiiU right now.

I can’t imagine how important this title must be to Nintendo & the WiiU right now.

Oddly enough, this seems to be the trend for console manufacturers after they’ve had a very successful console generation. Sony royally screwed up the PS3 launch after dominating with the PS2. Microsoft became a running joke after unveiling the Xbox One. Nintendo has been down this road before by sticking with cartridges on the Nintendo 64. There seems to be this belief by these companies that consumers aren’t fickle and unfaithful creatures when they really are, outside of a very small group of loyal fans. Whichever manufacturer finds itself in the catbird seat in the current generation, seems to think that those fans will flock to their new console due out for the next gen, so they feel that they can set the rules for how things will work. Everyone loved the PS2, so of course we can charge $600 for the PS3, thought Sony. The Xbox 360 did extremely well, so of course we can include regular online check-ins, thought Microsoft. The Wii sold like the PS2, so of course we can just slap a name modification on a machine a bit stronger than current gen and launch it, thought Nintendo. Damn it, Nintendo.

There is a reflex to point out that the 3DS was once in similar trouble, but is now a monster, outselling everything in 2013, but I have a problem with that comparison. See, the 3DS only had to compete against the Vita (I’m not discussing tablets and smartphones in this post), and Sony was hardly taking advantage of a weakened 3DS, plus the 3DS had quite the headstart on the Vita. The WiiU, however, is having to compete on two levels. Firstly, it has to compete against the PS3 and Xbox 360 because, rightly or wrongly, it’s seen as a contemporary to those in regards to it’s processing power. Secondly, it’s having to compete against the more powerful PS4 and Xbox One. The WiiU is over a year old while those are new. It’s never fun to compete against “New & Shiny” when you’ve been out a while. Combine that with a lack of games and a perceived (and probably factual) lack of power, and you have a console that’s going to be a hard sell. Damn it, Nintendo.

It does, and you're going to need it.

It does, and you’re going to need it.

Did I say lack of games earlier. My mistake. I meant a veritable drought of games. Look, Nintendo makes amazing games, I don’t think anyone would argue against that. Even if you don’t necessarily like most of their titles, you can appreciate the fact that Nintendo are among the absolute best when it comes to game designing. The problem is, no matter how good they make games, they can’t single handedly support a console. For all the grief the Wii gets when it comes to its game library (for reasons I don’t fully understand) in reality it had a very good library of games. My favorite game on the system only launched in North America in 2012. Nintendo was able to get third party support along with their own games. It was a good mix. That’s not happening this time. Oh, teaming with Platinum to publish The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 was a genius move. Allowing Link to be used in a Dynasty Warriors based game is pretty cool, whether you like the series or not. But even with those two points, that’s still a ton of weight on Nintendo’s shoulders, and right now, only Activision and Ubisoft seem truly dedicated in putting their games on the WiiU. With none of those being exclusive, it provides no real motivation to move to the WiiU from an Xbox 360 or PS3 or newer console. The WiiU is becoming a console that is basically a Nintendo machine, and that’s just not going to be enough for many people, especially at the current price tag. Damn it, Nintendo.

So what does Nintendo do? Throw their hands up and start preparing for the next generation now? Go all in and throw money at developers to increase game releases for the WiiU? You know, I don’t have a clue. Nintendo has been in business a long time. I feel fairly confident that they are smarter than I am. Also, Nintendo has surprised us before. I’m so used to Nintendo pulling things out of the dark that it wouldn’t shock me to see them announce Half-Life 3 as a WiiU exclusive at E3…assuming they have an E3 presentation this year. I’d think they have to, assuming they’re going to fight for the WiiU. They could certainly use some buzz and excitement and there’s no bigger venue than E3. Nintendo Directs are a cool idea and all, but nothing matches the audience reaction at a new game reveal. Just imagine the live reaction of Mega Man’s reveal for Smash Brothers. It would have rivaled the now famous Twilight Princess reveal. I hate that we were robbed of that. Damn it, Nintendo.

You know you love this moment.

You know you love this moment.

I’m an unabashed Nintendo fan. I love the company, I love their games, I want them to succeed. I’m an invested customer, but I’m also invested because this company defined my childhood. To see them going through such trouble now is not something I enjoy but, at the same time, something I think they deserve. They mistakenly thought they could dictate the rules of console sales and are now paying for that miscalculation. This is where the forecast slashing becomes a positive. To solve a problem, you first have to see it and admit you have it. Until now, Nintendo hadn’t done that. The idea that they would sell nine million WiiU’s was absurd to everyone but them. Now that number’s gone. Nintendo is finally admitting their misstep, and maybe they’ve done it early enough to at least reverse their fortunes somewhat. Understand, I don’t believe that the WiiU will kill Nintendo. Nintendo as a company will be fine. They have deep pockets, but even with those, they can’t afford to continue supporting a failing console. The question now is what do they do to turn it around. Again, I don’t know the answer to that (but it should be interesting to watch). The WiiU will not win this generation. That ship has sailed. At the same time though, it can still be workable and sell respectably. I don’t know how that happens, but I firmly believe it can. I’ve thrown out ideas on Twitter, but people much more experienced in this than I am are calling the shots. As a WiiU owner and Nintendo fan, I just hope the hole isn’t yet too deep for them to dig out of. Damn it, Nintendo.

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Comments
  1. drewrapp says:

    It’s certainly been a rough year for Nintendo, but I think they are poised for a comeback for exactly what you said: you (and many others) love the company and want them to succeed. I would be interested to hear what you think about my take on their future:

    http://drewrapp.com/2014/01/19/in-the-business-of-imagination/

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